Magic Boy & The Robot Elf

by James Kochalka

ISBN: 1891830333

This is a reprint of Kochalka’s first graphic novel, and the ending is different this time around. Not having seen the first version from 1995, I can’t compare the two, but I can say I think this one works.

The format is different from his more recent books; this is digest-sized instead of square. It is printed in two ink colors, purple for most of the story, with orange panels used for offshoots of the main action. It is strange to see the familiar characters of Amy, kitty, and Magic Boy rendered in cruder and less mature form.

Their appearance is a reminder of how comics change, even though I think they don’t — I always think the version I’m looking at is the way it has always been. (For a shock, dig up some ancient Garfield strips, and see how different a cat he was, back before each lasagna joke had been made 10,000 times and the drawing reflected some attitude.) That said, you can instantly recognize this work as Kochalka’s: the lines aren’t as thick or fluid, even the lettering is thinner, but the style is still recognizable.

I can also see that what I now think of as “classic Kochalka elements” in this story: time travel, touching sexuality, robots, and the acceptance of the magical or fantastic as part of the real world.

Bottom line: interesting in its own right, this book is probably even more rewarding for folks who are already fans.

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